Keeping Unconscious Bias Out of the Workplace

Keeping Unconscious Bias Out of the Workplace

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, essentially is subconscious prejudices based on stereotypes or attitudes developed through upbringing, environment, and experiences.  Several types of unconscious bias exist in the workplace and in society such as affinity bias, beauty bias, racial bias, and gender bias.

A common prejudice, affinity bias, causes a person to closely identify with others who possess attributes similar to themselves.  For example, perhaps you have developed a friendship with a colleague who graduated from the same college as you.  Because of this relationship, they are the only person you consider to head up a new project instead of contemplating the qualifications of other candidates who may have equal qualifications.   This is a sign of what could be considered affinity bias.  

Beauty bias is when you subconsciously form certain beliefs or attitudes about people based on their physical attractiveness.  Let’s say a coworker:

  • Doesn’t have the “right color hair” or hairstyle
  • Doesn’t wear “the right makeup”
  • Doesn’t wear the “right designer clothing labels”
  • Wears casual attire everyday
  • Has a “different type of smile”
  • Doesn’t get professional manicures “on a regular basis”

In the instances listed above, subconsciously, one may think the coworker is unqualified to lead an important project because the results of their work might be unprofessional, unrefined, incomplete, and delayed.

Unconscious bias can lead to micro-aggressions in the workplace and mutate into harassment and/or racism.  It occurs during the hiring process as well as promotion reviews.  That said, employers can actively work to eliminate implicit bias.

Educating employees on the topic is an excellent start.  According to the Harvard Business Review, employee training should include the following practices:

  1. Empower employees to change.  Provide employees with tools/best practices to reframe their thinking in order to break stereotypes.
  2. Create empathy by providing opportunities to see and respect different perspectives.
  3. Encourage diverse interaction by nurturing curiosity in team projects.

Training should be accompanied by policies, procedures, and a corporate philosophy that talk about its harmful effects on clients, employees, vendors, visitors, and the company as a whole.  

Let us know your thoughts on reducing implicit bias in the workplace in the comments below.  

Go out there and make it a great day!

Breaking Down Customer Service: The Greeting

Breaking Down Customer Service: The Greeting

A memorable experience!  As a consumer, who among us doesn’t want that on a consistent basis?

Customers form opinions about your service based on many things—beginning with the way you talk to them.

Great customer service begins from the first point of contact…over the phone, virtually, online, face-to-face.  Regardless of the method, your greeting should impact customers such that they have a longing to do business with you indefinitely.

A genuine embrace with your body language, facial expression, other non-verbal acknowledgement tells them you affirm their presence…it is the first step in building a relationship.  Now, that’s only the beginning.  The following are basic principles to consider as you protect one of your most precious assets…your client:

  • Ask how he/she/they want to be addressed…”Mr. Smith”, “Mrs. Johnson”, “Dr. Matthews”.  Do not use their first name unless they’ve given permission to do so.  
  • Your greeting should be professional and not rehearsed.  Avoid too much banter and being loquacious.
  • The ability to read body language, tone of voice (written or verbal) can offer great insight as to the level and frequency of interaction a customer prefers.  For example, an introvert may prefer a quick greeting void of small talk.  Remember to offer a sincere smile while speaking on the phone, texting, online, and face-to-face…your client can hear it in your voice.

Your greeting provides an opportunity to deepen the relationship, create community roots, and increase customer loyalty. 

In the comments below let us know what makes your customer greeting special.  Make it a great day!

Psychological Safety at Work

Psychological Safety at Work

Do your employees feel comfortable to share their ideas and concerns, or raise questions?  If you’re unable to answer that question with a confident and resounding “Yes!”, you may want to take a look at the level of psychological safety your workplace offers. 

According to Forbes, psychological safety at work is “a shared belief held by members of a company, department or team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”  Simply said, if employees feel psychologically safe at work, they feel free to express their genuine thoughts and opinions without fear of rejection, embarrassment, or reprisal.

Psychologically safe workplaces are important because they foster innovation, increase productivity and improve retention. Employees are more likely to share unique ideas if they feel safe to do so. If mistakes occur, they can be treated as a learning opportunity; unlike employees in psychologically unsafe workspaces where mistakes may be hidden due to job security concerns.  Not surprising, turnover is reduced because great teams flourish in psychologically safe work environments.  Employees want to work where they’re valued. Ultimately, being part of a great work environment is beneficial to the company, its consumers, and the community.

Improving psychological safety in the workplace requires dedication and must be a priority to management.  Begin by observing your team’s communication style. How are differing opinions handled? Ensure all ideas are heard by reassuring the team that honest feedback is welcomed.  Be sure to thank team members for their contributions.

Celebrate diverse thinking and show respect for all opinions.  Model how to provide constructive criticism without belittling others.

What steps are you taking to improve psychological safety in your workplace? Let us know in the comments below and remember…make it a great day!

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

Ahh, it’s that time of year again. Undoubtedly November and December are peak months for discretionary spending. And as we enter another holiday season, it can be stress inducing for shoppers as well as business owners. Shoppers are under pressure to secure the perfect gift while competing with other shoppers for items in limited supply.  Business owners are enduring staff shortages and supply chain issues. So today we’re taking a look at 3 common customer service complaints and how to prevent/reduce their occurrence.

1) Calling the wrong number when trying to reach a specific service area or department frustrates customers. To rectify this, add department/service area descriptions next to the phone number provided on your website. Track the type of calls you receive to identify trends. If you’re able to identify a common cause for concern, consider adding that information to your website along with the direct number should additional assistance be required.

2) A common consumer complaint is long wait times for service. Generally everyone packs a little extra patience around the holidays, but you should always look for ways to operate more efficiently.  Of course, this will look different for every business model, but it can include things like pre-scan, self checkout, or order ahead.  Offer special promotions during low volume periods to help re-distribute traffic to your storefront. 

3) Try to make the wait enjoyable. Things like musical selection and volume as well as temperature can create a sense of ease and make long waits more bearable.

4) Rude customer service agents round out our list of common customer service complaints. While our hope is no agent is ever rude to a customer, it happens. 

Consider:

  • Adjusting shifts
  • Creating additional breaks
  • Providing a catered lunch/snacks to show your appreciation
  • Providing additional training on topics about effective communication with colleagues and customers

Will your company do anything unique to improve the customer experience this holiday season? Let us know in the comment section below and make it a great day!

Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

What happens to elementary school bullies?  In some cases, they grow up to be adult bullies who lurk in offices and workspaces doing what they’ve always done—tormenting their targets.

According to the Workplace Bully Institute (WBI), workplace bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees of an employee; abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal abuse; or behaviors perceived as threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; work sabotage.” 

The WBI also found in a 2021 study that 30% of employees are bullied in the workplace with 43% of remote workers enduring the same experience.  Bullying can result in qualified employees’ high absenteeism, lost productivity, lost revenues, and high turnover.

While harassment at work is illegal, bullying is not because harassment involves mistreatment based on a protected class such as religion, race, national origin, or sex.  

Workplace bullying takes on many forms including but not limited to:

  • Hostile or aggressive written and/or verbal communication
  • Withholding resources
  • Unrelenting criticism
  • Invasion of personal space
  • Non-verbal intimidation 

Often times, the bully is the target’s manager but the behavior can also occur among peers.

If you are bullied at work,

  • Address the situation in the moment
  • Say exactly what he/she is doing to you and why it’s a problem
  • Call the bully by name and use self-assured body language
  • Document all incidents including how you responded
  • Retain all emails, voice mail, and other communications 
  • Present your documentation to human resources.  Your documentation should include suggestions on how you would like to see the issue resolved

Through company culture and policies, this offensive and unacceptable behavior can be eradicated.

In the comments below, let us know if you’ve experienced bullying in the workplace and how you handled it.